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Switch to semesters leads to curriculum merger for three of six Fine Arts schools

The change from quarters to semesters has brought new class times, new lesson plans, and for some, the beginning of a revamped college.

Beginning this semester, three of the six schools in the College of Fine Arts will begin to merge curriculums to eventually become a more combined school of dance, theater and film.

In February 2011, a committee was formed under former Director of the School of Fine Arts, Charles McWeeny, consisting of professors, faculty members and several department directors.

Before stepping down, McWeeny said he felt the merger would create a more positive experience.

“There is much to be gained by this union,” McWeeny said. “This will support recognized undergraduate, graduate and (Honors Tutorial College) programs, offer new possibilities for creative research, and support the college’s goals of multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary collaboration.”

Shortly after the committee’s decision, McWeeny announced his resignation. Following his departure, Madeleine Scott, former director of the School of Dance, became the interim director of the School of Fine Arts.

Scott advised that the combination of schools is not an immediate consolidation but a process, starting with a more interdisciplinary curriculum.

“I think we’re looking at the various stages; it starts with close association and then we’re hoping to have more combined courses,” Scott said. “We already have a terrific amount of sharing and now we’re looking at testing courses that combine the different schools and highlight the overall creative process.”

Though Scott said they have many things they are hopeful about, Steven Ross, director of the School of Film, said there are other aspects of the merger that will pose some challenges.

“Obviously the fun thing is allowing the students to create things together,” Ross said. “The curriculum combination is the fun part; what is more difficult is the budgeting, delegation, governance and policies.”

It is unclear whether the combined schools will have three separate directors for each department or some other combination of leadership, Scott said.

“We’re not sure what is the right and most effective structure,” Scott said. “We’re all in three different buildings, we’re looking at how we combine them in a way that is most helpful. I would imagine that the structures won’t immediately change.”

There is not a concrete idea of what the end combination of the schools will look like because each department is allowing for the vision of the schools to unfold naturally, Scott said.

“I don’t want to say, ‘this is definitely what it will look like,’ because I don’t want to limit what it could become, but we’re hoping for a rich place where we as students and faculty can come together in a more creative way,” Scott said.

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